Introducing: The Kitchen at You & Yours Distilling Co.!

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The You & Yours kitchen is HERE, and I can hardly contain myself! After years of dreaming about offering our customers both a cocktail and a light bite in the Tasting Room, it’s finally a reality and I can’t wait to share these dishes with you.

To bring the vision to life, I was fortunate enough to collaborate with my friend, Chef Brian Redzikowski (of Kettner Exchange), who helped create a menu of *somewhat* southern-inspired small plates that loosely tie back to my southern and Texas roots, albeit with a strong southern California undertone.

I already have a few favorites (I’m looking at you, “Taco Bell” Egg Rolls), but half the fun is getting to see what our customers gravitate towards! So without further ado, read on to learn a little bit more about the thought process and inspiration behind each dish!

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Ham + Biscuit Plate

Thinly sliced Benton’s Country ham from Tennessee (one of my favorite hams in the world) and flaky buttermilk biscuits come together for a plate of classic southern comfort. This dish also features a rotating house-made seasonal jam and butter. A gorgeous rhubarb & orange jam and charred scallion butter are the springtime accompaniments.

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Arugula & Chicory Salad

A cheese board in salad form! Fresh arugula and chicory from La Mesa-based Two Forks Farm are tossed with Petite Basque cheese, pink peppercorn-spiced pecans, dates and a savory honey mustard vinaigrette. Bet you didn’t know a salad could be this good.

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Carrot Tartare

Did you even know your life was missing this dish? Our (veggie) take on the classic French staple, but with a southern twist. Top a Texas Toast-style toast point with a combo of roasted and coarsely ground carrots, cornichons, tarragon, and capers. Topped with a bit of pecorino and arugula.

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Patatas Bravas

It’s hard to go wrong with a plate of potatoes, but we like to think we’ve elevated this humble root vegetable just a touch. Baby potatoes are fried to an ideal crisp and topped with a spicy, smoky bravas sauce and creamy roasted garlic aioli. A little spicy bit of heaven in every bite.

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Spicy Salmon Poké

Craving something on the lighter side? Our spicy salmon poké starts off with fresh salmon tossed simply in soy, layered atop sushi rice and fresh greens, then drizzled with a classic creamy spicy sauce and finished off with house-made nori chips. Paper thin coins of cucumber and breakfast radish add texture and interest.

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Crispy Eggplant Stack

A comforting Italian delicacy in tapas form. This dish has quickly become a customer favorite, and there’s a reason why. Panko-breaded eggplant is layered with fresh and local Burrata cheese, and the whole dish gets a generous blanket of our creamy Y&Y Vodka sauce. Inspired by the plates (and plates and plates) of Rigatoni alla Vodka I survived on while studying abroad in Italy! Just try stopping at one bite.

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Broken Shrimp & Grits

You’ve probably heard of shrimp & grits, but have you ever heard of broken shrimp? Sourced from Catalina Offshore, these shrimp are just the same quality as their traditional counterparts; the only difference is that these guys get a little beaten up during processing. They may have lost their tails, but they’re just as delicious! In the spirit of reducing waste, we are all about re-purposing these perfectly good crustaceans in the form of a southern classic. They’re tossed in a Tabasco sofrito and nestled on top of the creamiest parmesan grits this side of the Mississippi.

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Fried Chicken

Would it even be a somewhat southern-inspired menu without fried chicken? We’ve taken this staple and turned the dial up – juicy chicken pieces ( I like to call them adult nuggets) are double battered and fried to perfection, then finished with a house-made buffalo drizzle. And we’ve included a gorgeous bed of rainbow chard from Two Forks Farm because, balance.

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“Taco Bell” Egg Rolls

I mean, do I even need to say anything here? My high school and college-aged selves are bursting with glee! Elegant appetizer meets ultimate drinking food… A cheesy seasoned ground beef mixture is delicately rolled into phyllo-like sheets and fried to the lightest crisp, served with {not-from-a-packet} hot sauce and drizzle of crema.

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Worms In Dirt

This childhood dessert has grown up beautifully. The 21+ parfait-style treat starts off with Provisional Gin chocolate mousse, layered with velvety devil’s food cake, graham cracker sand, and Stella Jean’s vanilla ice cream. It wouldn’t be complete without few worms, which are made in-house with our Y&Y Summer Citrus Vodka. You won’t be able to resist!

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The best part is that each dish is conveniently paired with one of our signature You & Yours cocktails so you can pair and share to your heart’s content! We can’t wait for you to try these beautiful southern small plates and hear what your favorites are. Come see us soon! Xo, LKJ

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Review of the Week Vol. 4 { A Canned WINE COOLER }

Welcome back to Review of the Week! A fun little series where I tell you about one thing I enjoyed that past week so you can too!

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This week it’s a *gasp* WINE COOLER! Never thought I’d say that but I promise this one is actually worth a try! While in Palm Springs a couple of weekends ago, we stopped by a VONS supermarket to check out our just-landed You & Yours canned cocktails. Having recently locked down all southern California locations of the retailer, we were SO excited to see our products on shelves out in the wild. After perusing the aisles, we couldn’t resist picking up a couple of other canned RTDs to try… I’ve been a huge fan of Union Wine Co.‘s Underwood line of wines in a can over the years and thought it was high-time I tried some of their wine coolers too. I was hooked by the packaging right away, but after taking a peek at the ingredients (just wine, hops and real fruit juice), I knew had to give the Riesling Radler a try.

When I popped it open, I have to admit it smelled EXACTLY like opening up a bag of Bugles… you know the little corn snacks you put on your finger tips? Lol. Not exactly off-putting (I love a good salty snack) but just… unexpected. After the Bugle aroma subsided, it had a super sweet nose to it, making me a bit worried it was going to be too saccharine. But when I took a sip the sweetness thankfully gave way to an extremely palatable and dry, almost bitter finish. Every sip is a roller coaster, let me tell you! But in a good way. It’s sweet up front, then deliciously complex and juicy before rolling through to a pithy grapefruit peel-like finish. It’s pretty brilliant because the sweet start is perfectly balanced by that bitter finish, which keeps you going back in for sip after sip.

My only drawback, if I had to name one, would be the alcohol content. They’re *extremely* sessionable at just 3% ABV. They don’t exactly pack a punch, but if you have a friend or family member who maybe isn’t a big drinker, this is a really fun option for them to get in on just a little bit of fun. And no matter you’re desired poolside ABV, these Radlers are definitely worthy of a spot in your summer bevvy lineup!

Have you tried the Riesling Radler yet? If so, would love to know your thoughts! And if not, click here to find out where to buy them near you.

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Review of the Week Vol. 3 {A Juicy, Salty Red Blend from Australia}

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Welcome back to Review of the Week: A fun little post series where I share something I loved recently so you can enjoy it too!

This week I’m introducing you to a stupid delicious wine we picked up at Vino Carta last week… After a bit of a rough day for both Luke and myself, we decided to lift our collective spirits with a glass of wine (or two) before heading home to cook dinner. We love stopping into Vino Carta in our neighborhood on a casual week night. Their selection of natural and biodynamic wines is robust and constantly changing, with a wide variety of price points. And their staff are so knowledgeable. All we have to do is walk in and say three words (“easy, mid-week red” or “sassy, warm-weather white”) and the spot-on suggestions come at us like machine gun fire.

This particular evening we were looking for something juicy and easy-drinking, but a varietal or blend we don’t drink all the time. We were between two bottles – a pinot noir from our fave, Santa Lucia Highlands (something we drink a lot) and this random Amy Atwood selection we’d never seen before but sounded really good. Without hesitation the gal on duty pointed us towards the Amy Atwood red blend and we immediately heeded her advice.

We’d intended on just having a small glass and heading home, but ended up enjoying the whole bottle over stories of all the fires we’d put out that day and alternating giving the other a pep talk, lol. It was so utterly drinkable and well balanced, I took the empty bottle home so we could remember what pure joy we’d just drank. I kept saying it tasted like a strawberry fruit snack spritzed with sea water. You know that unspeakably juicy & addictive quality that characterizes sweet things like fruit snacks, Gushers and Starbursts? THAT IS THIS WINE! We couldn’t stop.

Here’s a snap of the info on the back if you’re interested in picking up a bottle! Just ask the gals at Vino Carta and I’m sure they’ll point you in the right direction. This would be a great girls-night-in or casual dinner party pick! Happy drinking! :)

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Be sure to check out previous ROTWs: A Ginger Turmeric Cappuccino and Mexican-inspired Gin & Tonic.

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A Weekend with Family in Palmetto Bluff, SC

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When my mom told my brother and I that she was surprising us and our significant others with a fun weekend trip for our birthdays late last fall (my brother and I were born 8 days apart – albeit with almost 8 years in between), and that she wasn’t going to tell us where we were going until the plane landed, I knew almost immediately where she was taking us. I kept it to myself, knowing she was bursting with glee to keep it a secret from us. However, I just knew she was taking us to South Carolina. She frequents the gorgeous southern state pretty often for tennis retreats and girls’ trips and I’ve repeatedly mentioned to her how badly I’d been wanting to visit a specific part of the state – Palmetto Bluff and the surrounding area.

Sure enough a few months later when our plane landed in Atlanta, GA and our driver announced we were just a short 45 minute drive away I knew I’d guessed correctly! When we pulled up to our home for the weekend – a gorgeous rental property on the Montage Resort grounds – I was giddy. Even though it was dark by the time we arrived and impossible to see the beautiful scenery, the cool, crisp air and sound of the cicadas buzzing around our back porch was almost a direct dose of bliss.

Our first day we woke up to the most beautiful morning and enjoyed coffee on our screened in porch while the guys played a round of golf. Us ladies were happy to relax and read before meeting them for a late breakfast. After we fueled up on mimosas and southern fare at Buffalo’s, we took a walk down the wharf for some more fresh air. I don’t know what it is – maybe living somewhere with one season year round – but I just couldn’t get enough of the crisp late fall South Carolina air and gentle breeze. You could have chained me to a chair outside by the water all weekend and I would have been a happy camper!

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After taking a survey of the water and surrounding natural scenery, we hopped on bikes and went for a long bike ride to see the rest of the property. Palmetto Bluff has several trails and little lakes and picnic areas so you can bike all day and never see the same thing twice. We stopped a few times along the way for photo ops of course!

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After our long ride we were thirsty, naturally, so we decided to grab a cocktail at the main Montage lodge. They have a bar, restaurant, spa, pool and gorgeous water feature with an adjacent patio, which is where we plopped ourselves for the next hour or so. We sipped on gin & tonics and rosé while we caught up and watched the gators float in and out of sight (yikes).

Time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to head to our first scheduled group activity – a visit to the Palmetto Bluff Shooting Club! Because you should always get a little buzz on before handling rifles! (Just kidding, don’t try this at home, lol).

Our time at the shooting range was definitely the highlight of the trip for me! I don’t have the best eyesight and despite being born and raised in the great state of Texas, I’d never shot a gun of any kind prior to this trip, so I didn’t know if it was going to be my thing… well, I was wrong. It’s TOTALLY MY THING! I had so much fun learning how to shoot the clays from each launch point and seeing who could hit each clay first (a little sibling/significant other competition is always interesting lol), I didn’t want to leave! I enjoyed it so much, I’ve vowed to head out to one of the shooting clubs here in Temecula on my next free weekend at home! I think I have a new hobby y’all, lol.

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When we returned home from shooting it was more porch time, albeit this time with a bit of champagne instead of coffees. Before we knew it it was time to get ready for dinner! All dressed up and ready to go, we headed into town to a local steakhouse that was phenomenal! I wish I could remember the name but I’ve Googled repeatedly to no avail. I promise to update if it comes to me :)

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The next morning we hopped back on our bikes in search of some breakfast and another walk down the wharf before it was time to meet my mom’s friends for a little boat ride! Some friends of hers live in Palmetto Bluff and were sweet enough to take us out for the day. We got a wonderful tour of the Bluff and adjacent waterways, before anchoring up in a little spot out of the wind and enjoying some conversation over a cold glass of white wine. Gradually we all decided it was time for lunch, so we cruised up and tied up the boat in front of Skull Creek Boathouse on Hilton Head Island for some fried shrimp po’ boys and crab cakes. Deliciously full and a little buzzed (always), we hopped aboard and made our way back home for some down time.

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Eager to soak up every minute of South Carolina, Luke and I jetted off by ourselves and opted for some more exploring by bike. After a stunning ride through a canopy of trees – and a few more photo ops – we stumbled upon a nice quiet little corner of Palmetto Bluff with newer homes, a gift shop, a grab and go restaurant and a gorgeous oyster shell-stucco’d bar (that wasn’t open unfortunately) and just took our time puttering around and perusing the tiny village. Just across the way, we found a small pond and with a tiny dock and just sat for a while, which was glorious. Well, funny story, I sat. Luke paced, as he was a little spooked by potential gators! HAH. Don’t tell him I told you that.

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Once Luke had enough of gator watch, we rode back to the house to grab our swim suits and meet my mom at the pool for a sunset cocktail and a dip!

Pretty tuckered out from two full days, we were all feeling a low key evening so we rode our bikes to a sweet little bistro, the Canoe Club, also on property and dined on a wonderful last meal together.

Luke and I had a superrrrrrr early flight the next morning as we were heading straight to Panama but luckily my mom, brother and his girlfriend all had another morning before flying back to Dallas. Lucky dogs!

All in all, I could just move to South Carolina right about now. I love the weather, the scenery, the vibe, the people, the FOOD!, and pace of life so much. I felt so at home there somehow when we visited in Charleston the year before last, so I have a feeling we’ll be spending a bit more time there in the coming years.

What about you, have you visited South Carolina? Did you love it? What other parts of the state should we explore? Please tell me in the comments below! Xo

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2019 Travel Plans & Bucket List

I had so much fun writing last year’s post around this time last year so I thought I’d share this year’s travel plans too. If you’ve been to any of the locations, or are planning trips of your own, please share your recs!

Distillerista-2019-Travel-Plans{ luggage essentials: Senreve Maestra bag in noir, Away The Bigger Carry On in navy, Longchamp Overnighter in gunmetal and a Scottish Fold stowaway 😉 }

Spring…

  • March – We’re contemplating a quick snow trip before its too late in the season – thinking of meeting some friends in Park City, UT mid-March. TBD, but I hope we can swing it!
  • April – The trip I’m MOST excited for this year is definitely when we head back to The Bahamas in mid-April. The Bahamas are so special to us for tons of reasons – I’ve been traveling there with my family for twenty+ years, it was the first vacation Luke came on with me and my family when we officially started dating, it’s where we got engaged, spent my birthday and it’s where we’ll be getting married next year! I can’t wait to head back to do a bit of wedding planning and a looooot of relaxing.
  • May – We’ve been promising to take my mom to Santa Barbara for YEARS so this Mothers’ day (which always falls on or around her birthday) I think we’re finally going to pull the trigger! It’s one of our all-time favorite spots to travel to for a long weekend – see my past trip recaps here and here.

Summer…

  • June –  SO excited for this… we’re headed to Europe! I haven’t been back in almost 5 years, which feels a little crazy. And I’m doubly excited as we’re doing something a little different this time, a rail trip through Scandinavia! We’ll be starting in Denmark, making our way through Olso and the fjords of Norway before ending the trip in Sweden. Then to top it off we’ll hit London on our way home to catch up with some friends and spend a few days in my very favorite city!
  • July – Hopefully making time for a trip to NYC with girlfriends to scope out my wedding dress. (!!!)

Fall…

  • October – Can’t wait to celebrate Luke’s 35th birthday (he’s a Halloween baby) in JAPAN for the Rugby World Cup! I can’t imagine a better collision of Luke’s favorite things – rugby, travel, yakitori, lollll …the list goes on. And perhaps a quick couple of nights in Hong Kong before we head home as well – it’s been at the top of his bucket list for ages.

Winter…

  • No plans beyond the fall just yet, but since we spent the Holidays down under last year, I’m looking forward to nice quiet holidays at home this year.

And not that the year is leaving us much room for additional travel, hah, but here’s a short list of where I’d like to go this year if we get the chance!

  • New England – Been dying to take a fall road trip through NE for years now, especially since we have dear friends in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island and I have family in Maine… Maybe this will be the year!
  • Montana – Cough, cough @Luke. Montana is at the top of my list and as such, I’ve been promised a trip for quite a while now. I think it’s high time he paid up, don’t you?!
  • Canada – I have only been once, to Victoria a loooong time ago, and there are so many parts of the country I’d still love to explore.
  • Oaxaca – high, high on our list. Perhaps we can tack it on to a return trip to Mexico City! One of our favorites.

What about you, where are you traveling this year?!

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Review of the Week! Vol. 2: El Jardin’s El Conquistador G&T

Welcome back to a new series here on Distillerista! Each week I’ll be sharing a shorter format post reviewing one thing I tried over the previous week. It may be a cocktail, a non-alcoholic drink, a product, a spirit, or a recipe. Just a little something I enjoyed and wanted to share so you can too!

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This week is the first of what is sure to be many in a category of these reviews: a You & Yours Distilling Co. cocktail menu placement featuring one of our spirits! This week it’s a gorgeous Spanish-style Gin & Tonic featuring our Winter Gin, AKA my version of a London Dry style of gin.

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The ‘El Conquistador‘ at El Jardin in Liberty Station is everything a Gin & Tonic should be: gorgeous to the eye, intoxicating to the nose and perfectly bright and balanced on the palate. Complimenting our Winter Gin is Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water, then it’s all garnished with aromatic orange zest, eye-catching star anise pods and lemon balm and fennel fronds from the Chef’s own garden. As delicious as it is beautiful! Be sure to get to El Jardin to try one quick, as Bev Director Eliza and her team are about to overhaul the cocktail menu for spring and a new Sunday Gin cocktail will be taking the Conquistador’s place!

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Cheers! And be sure to check out last week’s Review, a gorgeously creamy “Dirty” Ginger Turmeric Cappuccino.

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Review of the Week! Vol. 1

Welcome to a new series here on Distillerista! Each week I’ll be sharing a shorter format post reviewing one thing I tried over the previous week. It may be a cocktail, a non-alcoholic drink, a product, a spirit, or a recipe. Just a little something I enjoyed and want to share so you can too!

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This week I’m sharing a non-alcoholic bevvy! I’m trying to cut back my caffeine consumption to one coffee a day and since I typically always have a morning coffee at home, I’m always looking for interesting non-coffee based lattes or specialty tea drinks when I’m out and about at a coffee shop. This past weekend after perusing our local farmers’ market, it was a bit chilly out and we were feeling a nice warm coffee before heading home.

We ducked into Frost Me Gourmet, a relatively new little cafe and bistro in our neighborhood and I immediately lit up when I saw the ginger turmeric cappuccino! It’s essentially a warm infused almond milk beverage that can be served “dirty,” if you prefer, that is with a shot of espresso. I opted for dirty but with a decaf shot and it was delicious! Perfectly frothy and creamy (as almond milk sometimes has trouble with), with just the perfect amount of earthy and warming spice from the ginger and turmeric. Just the thing for a chilly winter morning!

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A Very Distillerista Gift Guide!

The Holidays are here, can you believe it?! Below are some of the things I’m gifting – and wishing for! – this year… whether you’re searching for something for the traveler, spirits enthusiast, aspiring distiller or ultimate host(ess) in your life, I’ve got you covered!

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For the traveler…

Away Suitcase (pictured) I SWEAR by my bigger carry on from AWAY. I love this thing so much, I bought one for my fiancé too. They hold SO MUCH (seriously, I packed for two+ weeks in New Zealand with just this one bag! And we know I don’t like to outfit repeat…) and they’re incredibly durable and easy to maneuver. Plus all the fun colors to choose from! You’ll never by another suitcase again.

En Route Passport Holder (pictured) A cute passport cover makes a great stocking stuffer for your wanderlust-ing bestie.

Carry On Cocktail Kit (pictured) I – honestly – never fly without one, and neither should you! Or anyone you love. I’m all about elevating your imbibing experience, and that means when you’re flying too.

Silk Eye Mask (pictured) Nothing like a chic silk eye mask to make coach feel a little more luxurious!

Hydrating Sheet mask… I love embarrassing my fiancé on long flights and throwing on a sheet mask (bonus points if you do it WITH the eye mask!) What better time to multi-task than on a long flight, self-care included!

 

For the spirits enthusiast or aspiring distiller… 

Gin Making Kit (pictured) Have a budding distiller on your hands? Get them an at-home gin making kit!

Sunday Gin (pictured) It wouldn’t be a Distillerista gift guide if I didn’t include a bottle of Sunday Gin! I may be a little biased, but that aside, it’s a lovely entry point enter the world of gin for a friend who may need a little coaxing over to the good side! Check out our website for where to buy (shipping options included), or pop by the tasting room to pick up a bottle.

Cocktail Class (pictured) If your gift recipient is local to San Diego, consider purchasing them two tickets to one of our cocktail classes! Such a great way to learn – or brush up – on the basics of cocktail making and a fun date night idea to boot.

Large format ice molds (pictured) No better way to enjoy your favorite spirits than over a large format ice cube. They provide the bit of chill you’re looking for plus slow dilution.

Table Top Distilling Book For the more studious spirits enthusiast, a wealth of knowledge on small-scale at-home distilling lies in this wonderful book!

 

For the ultimate host or hostess in your life… or anyone really!

Seasonal Candle with Cloche (pictured) No one was ever mad about receiving a candle! And this glass cloche provides an extra bit of elegance.

Chic Corkcicle cooler tote (pictured) Such a game changer! No more lugging around a sad styrofoam box. Throw a few bottles of wine (or better yet, canned cocktails!) into this cooler bag and head to the park incognito!

Large marble + brass serving stand Bonus points if you gift it with treats already nestled on top!

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A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

A Week of Work + Play in Nashville, TN

It doesn’t take much to get me back to the south, but when the National Honey Board reached out to invite me (!!!) to this year’s #HoneySpiritsSummit in Nashville, TN I couldn’t respond YES quick enough! And in true LKJ fashion, I had to come out a few days early to soak up one of my favorite cities before the summit kicked off. Here’s what my jam-packed week in Nashville looked like…

Day 1 – THURSDAY

After landing at the airport Thursday afternoon, we caught a Lyft to our home for the weekend, the newly opened Thompson Nashville (I twisted Luke’s arm superrrr hard to spend the weekend with me before the Summit started on Monday 😉 ). We love Thompson properties, especially their Cabo location, so we thought we’d see what the Nashville location was all about. It was even more beautiful than we expected, and best of all, located in the ultra trendy Gulch neighborhood (word has it TSwift’s got a Penthouse nearby). Looking for a little post-flight pick-me-up after checking into our room, we grabbed cappuccinos at the Killebrew Coffee conveniently located just adjacent to the lobby and headed out for some Vitamin D, after which we practically walked right into Rod Stewart on the street! Perks of visiting Music City!

After exploring The Gulch a bit and working up an appetite, we grabbed a Lyft to the 12 South neighborhood for some tacos and margs at bartaco, followed by more strolling and shopping. Definitely one of the better Margaritas I’ve had, plus great people watching and super cute southern coastal decor. Full and ready for a nap/regroup, we headed back to the hotel for a bit.

Once sufficiently well-rested for our first night out, we got dolled up and headed upstairs to the Thompson’s rooftop bar, L.A. Jackson, for some pre-dinner drinks! After watching the sunset up top, we headed out for dinner at Husk. I love scheduling a fun dinner reservation on the first night of a trip because it’s something to look forward to right when you get there, and saves you the hassle of making a decision after a potentially hectic travel day.

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Day 2 – FRIDAY

After banging out some emails (with more Killebrew coffee!) in the lobby, we put the laptops away and headed out for a big walk through the touristy Broadway strip. Having had our fair share of people watching pretty quickly (lost count of how many rowdy bachelorette parties we saw omg), we ducked into Martin’s BBQ for lunch and some reconnaissance on their award-winning beer garden.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-luke-lobbyDistillerista-Week-in-Nashville-MartinsLooking to kill some time and get out of the heat, we headed to Corsair’s “Brewstillery” for a cold beer. Highly recommend their brewery/distillery tour too if you have some time! This location is where they do most of the brewing and distilling of their whiskey mashes.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-corsairOn a whim, we called The Kimpton Aertson hotel (another one of our favorite hotel groups!), to see if they had any availability for massages, and they just happened to have an opening for a couples’ deep tissue in 20 minutes! It was FATE! We chugged our beers and headed for the spa.

Having stayed at the Aertson on a past trip, we knew they had an incredible bar and restaurant inside the hotel as well so we popped over for a post-massage cocktail and app. If you’re in the area, you MUST check Henley out. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-henley-cocktail{ post-massage cocktail! }

Continuing along my dream Friday itinerary, we headed back to the Thompson for some downtime, followed by another rooftop/sunset/drink session up top at L.A. Jackson.

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We had so many restaurants on our list for the second night but made a game-time decision to take our chances at brand spankin’ new restaurant Folk from the Rolf & Daughters team. I’m so happy we did because it ended up being one of the better meals I’ve ever had! We started with a cocktail while we waited to be seated, soaking in the minimalist decor and plethora of ultra cool Nashville locals chatting and flirting about. Once seated, we dove into their beautiful wine list, a juicy, salty Gamay for me and a Pinot Noir for Spook. We started with their sweet corn toast on house made sour dough (recreating this at home ASAP) and the shaved summer vegetable salad, which was the sleeper hit. Paper thin coins of zucchini and summer squash, expertly dressed with a buttermilk caesar dressing, topped with tons of fresh herbs and crunchy bread crumbs. TO.DIE. Honestly the apps were so good (slash maybe too many wines? lol) that I forget which pizza we ended up ordering ahahaha… I faintly remember some sort of Soppressata situation? Just go. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-FOLK { dining room @ Folk }

Feeling the vibes (read: sufficiently tipsy) from our time at Folk, we headed out for drinks at one of our favorite Nashville bars, Attaboy. This place is like, 95% of my dream cocktail bar, not kidding… We always say we’re just going to go for one and then three drinks later we’re still there, eyes glued to the bartenders doing their thing. You must, must, must go. Incredible service and lovely staff. 

Obviously on a good one, we ended the night with some shots of Bulleit and Budweisers at Robert’s Western World. Someone spread my ashes here when I go.

Day 3 – SATURDAY 

After a decent sleep in (thank you, second Shiner Bock at 2 am I didn’t need), we slowly made our way to the Johnny Cash museum for some A/C and non-alcoholic stimulation, followed by a delicious brunch at Butcher & Bee. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-butcher{ crispy rice bowl for me, burger for Spook and whipped feta for the table! plus rosé of course }

The combination of being slightlyyyyy hungover and the heat had us desperate for a pool so we called Holston House, the hotel I was set to check into the next day (for the summit) to see if we could use their pool a day early and they obliged (turns out their rooftop bar & pool is open to the public!). We nursed ourselves back to life with Gin & Tonics and stunning rooftop views while submerged in the cool water at Bar Tenn.

After a nap and a shower back at the Thompson, we headed out for our last dinner together at Oak Steakhouse… Would not recommend unfortunately.

Day 4 – SUNDAY

Never ones to miss out on a meal opportunity, we opted for brunch at Chef Maneet Chauhan-owned (the sweet Indian judge on Chopped!) Mockingbird before it was time for Luke to head to the airport. It was just an average experience unfortunately… wouldn’t necessarily recommend but dying to try her Curry & Masala house next door on our next trip!

Flying solo for the rest of the trip, I decided to check something off my Nashville list I’d been dying to do all weekend long (we kept missing the tour times thanks to other plans/hangovers, etc. lol). I dropped my bags off at Holston House and caught a Lyft out to Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, a stunning historical mansion and botanical gardens in nearby Bell Meade, about a 25 minute drive or so from the city. See below for some snaps of the house and property! I could have stayed out there all day wandering along the gardens and cheeky animal installations but the rooftop pool back at the hotel was calling my name. 😉

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-Gator{ a temporary installation by Italian artist collective, Cracking Art }

After putting a solid dent in my book up by the pool, I debated staying in and watching TV with room service but rallied myself for yet another indulgent meal at Moto! After half a cheese plate and some of the best Cacio e Pepe I’ve had, it was time for bed. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bar-tenn

Day 5 – MONDAY

Attempting to counteract all the debauchery of the weekend, I woke up early and took a Pure Barre class in The Gulch, followed by a green juice next door. Having checked exercise/health off my to-do list for the day (hah), I headed to Pinewood Social to grab a coffee and get some work done. 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-pinewood

Once sufficiently caffeinated and caught up on emails, lunch at Hattie B’s was in order, considering I’d been in Nashville for five days and somehow still hadn’t had my hot chicken fix! I get “hot” with “extra hot” on the side! And a sweet tea for putting out the fire 😉

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-hattie-Bs

After catching up on more work, it was time for the Honey Summit opening reception at Nelson’s Green Briar Distillery! I got to meet my fellow attendees, try all different cask finishes of Bell Meade Bourbon and go on a tour of the distillery, led one of the founders himself! What an incredible story. I won’t ruin it for you but basically these two sons (both currently in their thirties I think?) happened upon a plaque in Bell Meade some years ago while on a road trip with their Dad and subsequently unearthed their family’s multigenerational distilling heritage! Fast forward a few years and a lot of hard work and they were able to get the original DSP number – TN-05 – reinstated and reopened the whole operation! If you’re in Nashville, PLEASE go sign up for a tour of their distillery and tasting room ASAP. So fascinating and inspiring.

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bell-meade-bourbon Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-nelsons-tour Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-nelsons-rickhouse

Day 2 – TUESDAY

The first full day of the summit took place at Corsair’s second Nashville location and headquarters. It was a jam-packed day full of fun information and super knowledgeable speakers. We tasted tons of different styles of honey and honey spirits and learned so much about how honey is made, how hives work, the bee lifecycle and hierarchies/social systems and organizational patterns, how bees find nectar, etc. etc. Seriously so, so fascinating and informative. After our crash course on bees and honey, we moved onto fermenting, distilling, sweetening and flavoring spirits with honey. This was also incredibly informative and interesting. I can’t wait to start experimenting with honey in the distillery soon! It makes sense, considering honey is a sweetener like molasses and agave, but it was crazy how similar the honey spirits we tried tasted like either a rum and/or a tequila/mezcal. They have lovely smokey, grassy qualities to them, as well as a slight but pleasant funk. Right up my alley.

After our epic day, we were treated to an incredibly indulgent and delicious group dinner at Urban Grub back in the 12 South neighborhood. Would highly recommend!

Day 3 – WEDNESDAY

My last and final day in Nashville was my favorite and for one reason: Our visit to an actual apiary! An apiary is basically a controlled hive or group of hives. A “feral” apiary or hive would be a hive that has formed naturally in the wild. We kicked the day off bright and early as to avoid the heat and had so much fun listening to the president of the Nashville Beekeeper’s Association tell us about the apiary and state of pollinating conditions in the state currently. I couldn’t get enough. 

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After leaving the apiary, we headed to yet another distillery, Pennington Distilling Co. (formerly SPEAKeasy Spirits) for another tour and some lunch. Pennington makes a few different styles of whiskey, as well as flavored vodkas, which they use in their newly released canned cocktails. Considering our own upcoming release, I couldn’t wait to try one! 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-Pickers

After Pennington it was time for most everyone from the summit to head to the airport. Lucky me, I had a later flight so I did a little more neighborhood hopping and shopping before grabbing one last margarita back at bartaco! Such a pleasant little spot to hang and finish my book before heading out of town. I also love the shops nearby – Draper James, White’s Mercantile and imogine + willie all had me wishing I’d brought a second suitcase! 

Distillerista-Week-in-Nashville-bartaco

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My DREAM Food And Beverage Concepts

I was reading a tip earlier this week from a blogging resource about what to write about when you get in a rut or haven’t been super creative in a while… they emphasized the importance of writing about what gets you excited, what you’re naturally passionate about so that the process of writing is fun and painless. I started to think about all the things I’m truly, inherently passionate about and one of those is, well, eating out! I genuinely love nothing more than experiencing a new-to-me food & bevvie concept, whether it be in San Diego or beyond. Getting to the restaurant and taking in the decor, music, the look of the staff, what they’re all wearing, how they’re working together, pouring over the menu and it’s themes or quirks in language, getting a pre-drink in the lounge or bar, making careful note of how and when they move us to a table, how they present the menu options, how they tag team service, etc. etc… I could go on and on but this is all to say, I am truly fascinated by the inner workings of any given hospitality concept.

This got me thinking, first about all my favorite restaurant experiences  (another post perhaps?) and from there, all the restaurant experiences I long for but have yet to find. Below is a somewhat silly yet utterly genuine list of my ULTIMATE dream food and beverage concepts or ideas. If you decide to execute one of these, no finder’s fee necessary. Just invite me to the grand opening, will you?

  1. A Chipotle-style Build Your Own Nachos vibe with craft cocktails on tap… a.k.a. not too far off new East Village hot spot Lola 55 – in terms of decor and steps of service – but with NACHOS. And like our beloved Chipotle, instead of white rice or brown rice yata yata yata, you’d be able to choose from blue or yellow or white corn tortilla chips, etc. then pick your protein and choose from fun toppings, different styles of cheese, at least two types of queso, omg someone PLEASE make this happen.                                                                                                                                  Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-Nachos{ in all honesty, is there any greater pairing than nachos and cocktails? @Punch Bowl Social}               
  2. If Gusta Pizza and Vino Carta had a baby… the best pizza on the planet is at Gusta Pizza in Florence, Italy. Period. It’s located on the opposite side of the river from most of the touristy things, tucked away behind a sweet little piazza where locals come to hang and meet friends for Aperitivo. The menu is written on butcher paper on the wall and if you throw the pizzaiolo a cheeky smile, he may toss yours in the shape of heart. Pizzas take about 90 seconds to come out of the 8 zillion degree stone oven and trust me, they disappear almost as quickly. The only thing missing is a Marissa Ross-curated, Vino Carta-esque wine list chock full of obscure natural wines from Italian producers to sip between luscious bites.                                                                                      
  3. A fully grass-fed and -finished steakhouse with clean/real food sides… and table side Sunday Gin Martinis of course. All the classic cuts, plus a “sampler” style option where you can have a few ounces of fillet, a few ounces of a ribeye and/or a few ounces of your favorite cut, etc. (I hate having to choose between a ribeye and a fillet, lol #firstworldproblems) Then imagine all your favorite steakhouse sides – creamed spinach, mac & cheese, scalloped potatoes but with ultra ULTRA high quality, real food ingredients – Kerrygold butter, Clover Dairy, hyper local cheese and produce, etc. Basically my dream indulgent meal except I get to feel good about it after. On the drink menu? Food-friendly new world wines with a focus on underrated grape varietals.                                                                                                                                                                    
  4. Blow-your-mind Middle Eastern food with funky skin contacts wines, Pet-Nats, just barely effervescent Gamays and Molly Yeh as pastry chef… Ambiance is major Sex in the City 2 vibes. In terms of food, thinking Alon Shaya meets Byblos meets Kokkari Estiatorio. Does it get any SEXIER!?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-alonshaya{ an insanely satisfying lunch at Alon Shaya’s Saba in New Orleans – yes, that is blue crab & sweet corn hummus }
  5. Hi Ho / Shake Shack / In N Out, with choose your own “6-pack” buckets of beer and canned cocktails But every burger has two sizes so you can have like, sliders, of more than one style of burger.Because who wants to choose between the three best burgers in SoCal? Not me. Thinking we’re al fresco here. On a random highway route… like halfway between two major locales… a destination in itself along the journey. The type of place you “accidentally” sneak a canned cocktail roadie or two with you when you get back on the road.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
  6. An all day beer and wine garden with a Texas twist… local craft beer (plus a few of those love to hate ’em classics), all natural wines by the glass and bottle, plus meat and cheese boards to write home about, rotating chef pop ups, all polished off with subtle southern ice house vibes but in an urban setting. Stay tuned, ’cause this gal might just be bringing this one to ya in the near-ish future 😉                                                                                                                                                                        
  7. Last but not least, a rotating cocktail menu by me (high quality craft spirits only), wine list by Whitney Adams or Marissa Ross, and a new menu each season by a different chef… in no particular order, you are all welcome to sign up for your 3 month stint: Sean Brock, Stefani de Palma, Brian Redzikowski, Anne Marie Coulon, Giada, Ina, David Chang, Francis Mallman… I could keep typing my heroes forever but you get the idea!                                                                                Distillerista-Dream-Food-Beverage-Concepts-annemarie { Anne Marie’s “breakfast bruschetta” at my fave Little Lion }

What about you? What dream food and beverage concepts do you wish would come to life?! Tell me in the comments or DM me!

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